Shark Awareness Day Date in the current year: July 14, 2024

Shark Awareness Day Shark Awareness Day is observed annually on July 14. It was created to celebrate the amazing sea creatures that are often misunderstood and to raise awareness of threatened shark species and the importance of their conservation.

Sharks are a group of fish that belong to the subclass Elasmobranchii of the class Chondrichthyes, alongside rays, sawfish, and skates. They make up the superorder Selachimorpha. Sharks have a skeleton primarily composed of cartilage, five to seven gill slits on each side of the head, and pectoral fins that are not fused to the head.

Sharks have existed for hundreds of millions of years. There are over 500 extant shark species in eight orders: cow and frilled sharks, dogfish sharks, sawsharks, angel sharks, bullhead sharks, mackerel sharks, carpet sharks, and ground sharks. Sharks can range in size from about 7 inches in length (the dwarf lanternshark) to approximately 40 feet in length (the whale shark).

Many people associate sharks with danger because when they hear the word “shark”, they immediately imagine large shark species with their multiple rows of teeth. Shark attacks that do occasionally happen as well as the negative portrayal of sharks in the media have resulted in the perception of sharks as extremely dangerous. In reality, however, only a handful out of more than 500 shark species are apex predators, and only four of them have been involved in a significant number of unprovoked attacks on humans. A person has 1 in 4 million change of being attacked by a shark, yet humans kill nearly 100 million sharks every year.

What most people don’t realize is that sharks play an important role in marine ecosystems and that they need protection. As predators, sharks help maintain the food chain balance, preventing the overpopulation of mid-sized predators, smaller fish, and plankton.

According to statistics, three-quarters of shark species are classified as threatened; the number of sharks and rays have declined globally by 70% over the past decades. The main threats to sharks include commercial and recreational fishing (several sharks are fished for their meat or fins for shark fin soup), bycatch, shark culling (capture and killing of large sharks by government authorities in response to shark attacks), marine pollution, and habitat degradation and loss.

It is unclear who came up with the idea of dedicating a holiday to sharks, but Shark Awareness Day probably originated in the United States like many similar observances. The holiday is supported by shark conservation organizations across the world that host events to increase awareness about sharks and tackle stigma associated with them, as well as to raise funds for shark conservation efforts.

There are many ways for you to observe Shark Awareness Day even if there are no events near you. You can read a non-fiction book or watch a documentary about sharks, visit a public aquarium that has sharks to learn more about them, donate to a shark protection campaign, and spread the word about the holiday on social media with the hashtag #SharkAwarenessDay.

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